RESIDENTS evacuated in the St Valentine's Day storm have hit out over the 'abysmal' state of their homes a month on.

Insurers Aviva failed to take action quickly enough to prevent further damage after the roof was blown off Heron Court in West Bay, homeowners claim.

One family were forced to climb into the attic to put out buckets to catch rainwater.

Of the 24 properties in the apartment block, five have been badly affected, with at least two tenants moving out into temporary accommodation.

One of the flats had no one living in it at the time of the storm, but is now unfit for habitation, the owner said.

Landlord Nic Flanagan, who rents out one of the properties affected, said: “I spent more than £20,000 doing this flat up. I think had they put a proper roof on after the storm, there would be less damage.”

A temporary roof was put on the day after the storm, but residents say this did not keep out rainwater.

Mr Flanagan added: “I had brilliant tenants who did all they could to limit the damage but this has now been going on for a month. People's welfare is being ignored.”

The tenant, who did not want to be named, said at the height of the rain he was replacing buckets and washing up bowls three times an hour as water came through the roof.

He said: “It was an all-night job. The issue is so much of this could have been avoided if the temporary roof had been watertight.”

Another flat owner, John Holker, rents out his property to holidaymakers.

He said: “The ceiling in the living room is bowing down because of the rain coming in. I had four bookings between now and June and I've had to ring them all to let them know the state of the place. Obviously, they have all cancelled.”

Mr Holker, a pensioner whose main income comes from letting the flat, added: “The frustrating thing is that no one has given us a timescale.”

Dorset County Councillor for Bridport Ros Kayes said the situation is 'shameful'.

She said: “The state of some peoples' homes down there is simply abysmal and they've received pretty short shrift from those supposed to help them.

“The worst thing of all is the failure of the insurance company to take responsibility for re-housing those people whose flats have been judged by a surveyor to be uninhabitable.”

Insurance firm's apology to residents

AVIVA apologised for the delay and said it was working to resolve the issues at Heron Court.

A spokesperson said: “We are very sorry about the service received by the residents of Heron Court following the recent storm claim. We will be offering to pay for alternative accommodation for those affected and we will be contacting them directly to confirm this.

“We have conducted a survey to establish the full extent of repairs needed, and we will accelerate these repairs so that people are back in their homes as quickly as possible.”